Monday, February 23, 2009

Week Twenty-One Newsletter

We saw another record week in points in Week Twenty-One, as we thought going into Saturday's action. Week Twenty-One saw 533 points scored in the Draft, which makes for an average of 31 points per team in the pool, although not everyone saw that kind of production in the week.

The lead in the Draft has gone up to 13 points, while we had one team fall out of the money, only to see someone new take his place. At the bottom, we now have a good battle for 15th place, which has been rather back & forth of late.

Week Twenty-One was also filled with some major injuries, which could make a huge difference, as we head down the last full week before the trade deadline. Will clubs make a deal to fill in the newly-created gaps or will they stay the course with players from their own system? I think there will be a number of players that were taken in the Draft (and the Sheet) that will be moved in the next nine days, which could offer up some solutions for teams that are on the cusp of winning some money this year.

All we can do on this side of the television/internet is wait and see. There is only 48 games in the league this coming week, starting with only one game tonight, so we likely won't see a repeat of the last couple weeks, as we eclipsed the 500-point mark for back-to-back weeks for the first time all year.

Poll Question
During Week Twenty-One, I wanted to know how you thought the Oilers would finish their season, including their mentality for the deadline. Well, everyone who voted thought that they would definitely be a buyer at the deadline, but the majority (5 of 8) of those votes thought that the Oilers would not make it into the playoffs. The Oilers have their name floating through a lot of rumours heading up to the deadline, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if they land a top level player here before March 4th.

This week, with the trade deadline coming up, I thought I would change it up a little bit by asking you about John Tavares, who will likely be the number one overall pick in the Entry Draft this summer. I picked out the last five teams in the league right now and I want you to tell me where you think Tavares will produce the most, if picked by that team.

Well, how's about that... going worst to first and again tying the weekly record high, as John B. hits the top of the list with 44 points. John was having troubles staying afloat at the top, but a big week like this opened up his lead once again, leaving Week Twenty-One with a 13-point lead. That surely makes up for his 15-point week that he had in Week Twenty. If he can continue to get some consistent weeks from a lot of his players, he may have a good chance of holding off the next four teams from first place and take home the big bucks.

Having a big week for John were players like Anze Kopitar (7 points), Ray Whitney (7), Ryan Getzlaf (6), Evgeni Nabokov (6) and Vaclav Prospal (4). Every player, except his one player in the minors (Manny Legace), figured into the scoring during the week.

John did suffer another injury though in the week, as Daymond Langkow went down with a bruised hand, but he shouldn't be out of the line-up for too long. Even he managed to figure into the scoring for John last week, having a single point before leaving the line-up.

For his fourth M&S-like week, having lost a couple due to tie-breakers, he earned a Jonathan Toews Gold card from the Victory set, see the picture from last week's newsletter for an idea of what that looked like. Also pictured in that diagram was the Evgeni Malkin retro card that will be featured in Week Twenty-Two, which will also come with it's basic card set from this year's O-Pee-Chee set. Week Twenty-Three will feature the Alexander Ovechkin retro card, so stay tuned for that one.

On the Sheet, it leaves me a little speechless, as there was very little movement, despite all the points that were available to be claimed in the pool this week. The best three teams, in terms of movement, had only moved up a pair of positions and one moved themselves into the money, so I believe that would be worthy enough of the M&S award for the week. Caterina moved herself up from seventh into fifth in Week Twenty-One after a week-high of 83 points. That's some great work! Having a good week for Caterina was Evgeni Nabokov (6 points), Evgeni Malkin (6), Henrik Zetterberg (5), Andrei Markov (5) and seven other players with 4 points a piece. That makes for a pretty solid week.

Well, with first place clearly taking the M&S award for the week, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the last place team takes the Basement Dweller designation for the week as well. Grant couldn't pick up points to save his team's life this week, only capturing 14 of a possible 533 available points in Week Twenty-One. His major area of concern would be his goaltenders, where Carey Price and Scott Clemmensen both failed to register a point in the week, both struggling mightily. Unfortunately, only eight of his players managed to register points and six of them only had two. Maybe the switch can be flipped on a few of these players to possibly make a play for 16th.

Well, maybe with the Sheet's M&S moving into the money this week, I'll take one that's moving out of the money for the Basement Dweller of the week, since it's beating a dead horse by saying some of those low-rung teams are really Dwelling well. Unfortunately for Mike E., he has switched spots with our M&S, moving from fifth to seventh in a matter of a week, thanks to a 60-point effort. On the bright side, he still is only 2 points away from the money and 12 points away from his old position, which isn't too bad. Hell, he's only 13 points from moving up to 4th... so there is plenty of hope left to work with.

In a high-scoring week, it was a fairly big race for the Player of the Week honours, as there were a number of players in the running heading into Saturday's action. Coming out of the fray was a goalie that wasn't listed among the names on Saturday morning and had himself a 5-point effort on Saturday to claim the prize.

Tomas Vokoun was having a pretty good start to the week in Week Twenty-One, having a 36-save shutout against the Devils on Tuesday, as the Panthers beat them 4-0. The story did take a wrong turn in the week, as the team was shutout 4-0 by the Blackhawks on Thursday. Vokoun made 38 saves in that game, but that effort just wasn't enough to save his team. So, heading into Saturday, he was only sitting with 4 points. Vokoun then turned it on again, as he shutout the Bruins 2-0 and also registered an assist on the first goal of the game for a whopping 5 points.

So, there you have it... a 9-point effort for Vokoun, which makes his Draft team owner, Don, a very happy guy. Vokoun has 20 wins on the season now, which is impressive, since he had lost a number of starts due to his inconsistency and having Craig Anderson play so well.

Well, the Devils were pretty quiet this week, which does seem a little strange, but they are anticipating the return of Martin Brodeur this coming week and that may have them a little nervous. Strangely, the nervousness has affected their scoring, which has affected Peter quite badly, as both Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta didn't register a point for him in the week. Peter was in the money in the Draft before this week and needed a big week from these two to remain in there. Sadly, he'll have to hope for a big week this week to get back in the money.

Other News and Notes

The Flames had a little bit more injury trouble against the Oilers as they didn't dress Mark Giordano because of an upper body injury. There is no immediate word on the severity of the injury, but Ryan (his Draft owner) hopes that the injury is rather minor. If the injury becomes more severe, an update will be published.

The Hurricanes decided to scratch Frank Kaberle again on Sunday, as Joni Pitkanen returned to the line-up after being out with an injury. Kaberle has been the odd-man out in Carolina when the whole defense corps is healthy. Kaberle has been placed on waivers a couple of times, but has yet to be claimed by another team.

The Blackhawks saw one of their key defenders, Cam Barker, leave Sunday's game against the Stars on Sunday. Barker blocked a shot with his leg and was forced to leave the contest, not to come back in the game. His status will be updated here when it comes down.

The Avalanche decided to have their rookie forward, T.J. Hensick, sit in the press box again on Sunday afternoon. Hensick has missed out on a number of the last contests for the Avalanche. He has likely lost his place in the line-up for now, so it's probably a good idea to have him removed from your active line-up, if you can. His potential is still quite high and with this season under his belt, his athleticism should make him a better player next year.

The Blue Jackets didn't have Box 5 forward, Jason Chimera, in their line-up against the Ducks on Saturday night, due to a slight groin injury. The injury is not considered terribly serious and has a good chance to make it back in the line-up in Calgary on Tuesday night.

A long ironman streak had come to an end on the weekend, as Andrew Brunette didn't dress for the Wild on Saturday against the Red Wings. Brunette, a Draft pick of Don's, suffered a lower body injury and tried his best to make it back into the line-up for Saturday, but his streak of 508 games had come to an end when it was all said and done. There is no word as to whether or not he'll be able to return just yet, as the Wild may want him to rest up and be 100% to go for the playoffs.

The Rangers former head coach scratched Petr Prucha for the last time on Sunday. Prucha has been a regular scratch under Tom Renney, who was fired on Monday morning. It will be interesting to see if Prucha has a bigger role under a new coaching system in New York or be the first one shipped out of town when the new coach re-evaluates his team.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

Well, we're back to those lame old doubleheaders in Week Twenty-Two, but we'll take it, won't we? Of course we will. In the early slot, there are a couple of games, but I don't know how they will break it out, but I'm sure hoping for one game more than the other. The High Definition channel will carry the Battle of Ontario, as the Leafs will visit the Senators, which still doesn't have the prestige that it used to. The Senators are going to push for the playoffs, while the Leafs are still re-tooling for the most part. The other early game, which I am hoping to see, will be the Sharks visiting Montreal and the Habs. Sure, the Canadiens have been struggling, but it will be a game against the Sharks that can bring the spirits up in the dressing room and they can use the game as a measuring stick for the rest of the season. Finally, in the late game, it's another key Northwest Division battle, as the Minnesota Wild roll into Edmonton to take on the Oilers. Both teams are fighting tooth & nail to get into the playoffs and this game is a good spring board into the second season.

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